|Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Press Conference on March 25|
Qong Quan: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. First there are several pieces of announcement:
At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, the President of the Republic of Mozambique Joaquim Alberto Chissano will pay a working visit to China from 4th to 9th April.
At the invitation of the Chinese Government, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education of the Kingdom of Lesotho H.E. Archibold Lesao Lehohla will pay an official visit to China from 1st to 9th April.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Columbia H.E. Carolina Barco Isackson will pay an official visit from 5th to 8th April.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania H.E. Kastriot Islami will pay an official visit from 1st to 4th April.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will lead a delegation to attend the Berlin International Conference on Afghanistan held from 31st March to 1st April.
China has always supported and taken an active part in Afghanistan's peace process and reconstruction. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is to expound upon the views and proposition of the Chinese Government on the Afghanistan issue and announce China's assistance to the country. He will also meet with other leaders and counterparts to exchange views on major international and regional issues.
At the request of the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the UN reform and its Secretariat, former Vice Premier of the State Council and member of the Panel Mr. Qian Qichen will preside over the Asian High-Level Symposium on Threats, Challenge and Change, which is to be held 2nd to 4th April in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
Now the floor is open.
Q: When calling Mr. Powell Monday, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing indicated that China hopes the United States would help maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. Is this a contradiction to the principle that "the Taiwan question is China's internal affairs"? Second, given that Minister Li Zhaoxing will attend the International Conference on Afghanistan in Berlin, what is the actual figure of China's assistance to Afghanistan? Is there still one Chinese civil police there?
A: First thank you for raising your question in Chinese, which becomes more and more fluent.
As for the first question, Minister Li Zhaoxing exchanged a telephone conversation with Mr. Powell on the evening of 21st March, during which he urged the US side to strictly adhere to the one-China principle and do more to help with the maintenance of peace and stability in the region and the development of cross-Straits relations. This is the consistent request by China to the US Government. He hoped that the US could stick to its position it has expressed on many occasions that the US would adhere to the one-China principle and the three China-US communiqués, oppose the "Taiwan independence" and any words or move by the Taiwan authorities aimed at unilaterally changing the status quo and leading to "Taiwan independence". Instead of being contradictory to the one-China principle, what Minister Li said is consistent with the long-standing position of the Chinese Government.
The Chinese Government and people have paid keen attention to and actively involved in the Afghanistan reconstruction process. We have announced a US$150 million's assistance to help rebuild the country, which will be implemented step by step. Some reconstruction projects involving China have been underway. The priority project for now is the Parwan irrigation project, which is to be started.
With regards to the Chinese civil peace-keeping police in Afghanistan, since we are supportive of and actively participating in its reconstruction, we are ready to strengthen our cooperation in all areas including on police affairs. Relevant departments of the two countries are in touch with each other on how to expand the cooperation.
Q: Two questions about the Diaoyu Islands. After 7 Chinese citizens have been arrested on the island, how is China's diplomatic representation with Japan? Second, about one hundred Chinese people protested in front of the Japanese Embassy this afternoon, what is your comment?
A: We have been following this issue closely. You must have noted the statement of the Foreign Ministry's spokesman on this matter. According to my estimates, following the incident, the Chinese side has made 9 solemn representations to the Japanese side, including the Vice Foreign Minister, the Chinese Ambassador to Japan and leading official from the Department of Asian Affairs. Our basic position is very clear, that is the Diaoyu Islands and the adjacent islets have been China's territory since ancient times. After the landing, regardless of China's position, the Japanese side forcefully put them under arrest under the domestic laws and sent them to Naha, Okinawa. This unjustifiable action violates the international law and is a severe provocation to China's territorial sovereignty and the human rights of the Chinese citizens. The Chinese side hereby expresses its protest.
We demand the Japanese side ensure their safety and release them without any condition. As instructed by the Chinese Government, the Chinese Embassy to Japan has sent officials there to handle the issue.
Talking about the marching and demonstration, I believe it is because that Japan's behaviors have seriously offended the feeling of the Chinese people, so much so that they have to express their strong indignation in one way or another.
I want to repeat that the Government's position on the Diaoyu Islands is crystal clear, that is the Diaoyu Islands and the adjacent islets have been China's territory since ancient times, that China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands and that this is backed by sufficient historical and legal evidence. The differences and disputes between China and Japan should be addressed through peaceful negotiations.
Q: Isn't "to resolve the issue of the Diaoyu Islands through peaceful negotiations" contradictory to the landing of the 7 Chinese?
A: We have been saying that such disputes should be addressed through peaceful negotiations. As a Japanese journalist, given that in recent years, some ultra-rightists and groups in Japan have kept landing on the islands to stir up trouble and put up illegal constructions, don't you think this is the root-cause of today's situation?
Q: Is that a denial?
A: Just now I made clear our position. The Diaoyu Islands and the adjacent islets have been China's territory since ancient times. The differences and disputes between China and Japan should be addressed through peaceful negotiations. But to everyone's knowledge, in recent years, a handful of people and some ultra-rightist groups in Japan keep going to the islands as a provocation, thus further aggravated the situation.
Q: Has the Chinese Foreign Ministry so far got in touch with the 7 Chinese? Are they safe? Has China asked Japan to release them? And the Japanese rightists said they would also land on the islands, do you think that will affect the China-Japan relationship?
Immediately after the incident happened in the early hours yesterday, officials in charge of Asian affairs have made representations to the Japanese side, demanding guarantee of the safety of the 7 Chinese. This request was again raised by Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and Chinese Ambassador to Japan Mr. Wu Dawei. After the illegal detention, we demanded unconditional and immediate release of these Chinese. The Chinese Government has instructed people from the Chinese Embassy to go there and handle the matter.
As to your second question, we hope that Japan could take measures to prevent people in Japan from further undermining the bilateral relations. Otherwise, the Japanese side must bear all responsibility for the consequences.
Q: Would you comment on Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to DPRK?
A: Before answering your question, is there any other question on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands?
Q: There are some people demonstrating in front of the Japanese Embassy today. They burnt and stamped on Japan's national flag. Is there any law in China forbidding insulting the flag of a foreign country? Does the relevant Chinese department allow such behavior?
A: I have to check whether there is such behavior. As far as I am concerned, I am not for radical behavior. But I must point out the response of the Japanese side following the landing is irresponsible. We have expressed our strong indignation and demanded the guarantee of their safety and unconditional and immediate release. We hope the Japanese side could immediately act upon those demands.
Q: Has the Chinese Foreign Ministry contacted those people? What about their condition now? Any updates?
A: I do not have all the details. But the wife of Feng Jinhua, who is one of the 7 people, came here yesterday out of concerns for her husband. Officials from the Department of Asian Affairs received her and comforted her by telling her what is happening. We never stopped concerning about their safety. Yesterday, officials of the relevant departments stayed up all night in the Foreign Ministry. So again we demand they be set free without any condition or delay.
Q: Can you tell us the historical and legal principles of China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands?
A: Thank you very much for this is a very important question. A little study and research would show you that over the years, Foreign Ministry's spokespersons have for many time elaborated on the issue of Diaoyu Islands. To give an overview of the historical and legal evidence would take more than two or three hours. So I recommend an article published in People's Daily 18 October 1996 entitled A Historical Review of the Sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands. It explains in details the historical and legal evidence and related international documentation that prove China's sovereignty over the islands, as well as the attitude of the Chinese Government.
Q: Please allow me to make sure whether China's law and policy allow its people to burn or insult the flag of a foreign country? The Japanese Embassy told Chinese Foreign Ministry it is regrettable that such things happened and asked China to take measures to prevent it from happening again. What is your comment?
A: I have no knowledge of and need to check what you said. But I must say that no matter whether or how it happened, or under what circumstances, the key issue we have to solve now is that the Japanese side free the illegally detained Chinese without any condition or delay.
If there is no more question about Diaoyu Islands, let me come to the question raised by CCTV on Minister Li Zhaoxing's three-day visit to DPRK.
Throughout the three-day visit, Mr. Li Zhaoxing had a full schedule which included a series of important meetings and talks. He met with the General-Secretary of the Worker's Party and Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong IL and the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Nam. Besides, he had extensive and in-depth talks with the Foreign Minister Baek Nam Soon, and the First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Joo. Their discussions covered all aspects of the bilateral relations such as political exchanges and cooperation in the economic, trade and other fields. They also talked about the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsular and other regional and international issues of common interest. The two sides reached extensive consensus on the above mentioned subjects. So it is a successful visit. Minister Li will be back in Beijing this evening.
Q: What is the content of Minister Li's talk with Kim Jong IL? Is it still possible that the next round of the six-party talks take place before mid-year?
A: Minister Li's talk with Kim Jong IL is wide-ranging and in-depth, including the six-party talks and the working group. Though I do not have further details, I can tell you that China has exchanged views with the other five parties including DPRK on the working group's framework paper. So things are moving forward. China will continue to consult with the other five parties to bring about an early meeting of the working group with a view to preparing for the third round of the talks before the end of June.
Q: The rotating President of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council arrived in Beijing today for a visit and he will meet with President Hu Jintao in the afternoon. Does this high-level talk signal a change of China's attitude toward the war in Iraq? Besides, the United States said yesterday that the third round of the six-party talks will be delayed until after its general election. How do you comment on that?
A: Your have mentioned everything I know. President Hu Jintao is going to meet the rotating President Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum this afternoon, following by talk with State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan tomorrow. And here is another bit of information, President Ulloum is very interested in the Zhongguancun Hi-Tech Park and is possibly going there to have a look. He will also go to the Great Wall. I hope that he will continue to enjoy such a clear and pleasant weather.
You have also asked about whether China's position on the Iraq War has changed. Actually I have expressed our consistent attitude and positions at the 18 March conference. We have always maintained that relevant issues should be addressed through political means under the framework of the United Nations. I believe this position of the Chinese Government is in line with the UN resolutions and the general expectation of the international community. This visit will help enhance the mutual understanding between our two countries. We also hope to see an early return of stability in Iraq and the realization of "Iraqi people governing Iraq" so that the Iraqis would be able to run their own country.
You mentioned some people in the US indicated that the next round of six-party talks won't be held before the general election. I have not seen this pessimistic view. The basic consensus reached in the last round of talks is to hold the third round before the end of June and to set up a working group. Now all parties are working for this objective and I have mentioned there has been some progress. China is in close contact with all other parties for the establishment of the working group. We stressed again and again the need to solve the nuclear issue through peaceful and political means, which is conducive to the peace and stability of the region and the world at large.
Q: Last time you said the Chinese Government has issued warning to its citizens in Israel following the assassination of the spiritual leader of Hamas Yassin. I am wondering if China has tightened the security measures around the Israeli Embassy in Beijing and its Consulate-General in Shanghai? Whether China will take measures to protect the Israeli citizens and Jewish people in China from the terror attacks of Hamas?
A: The Chinese Government adopts a responsible attitude in ensuring the security of all the foreign embassies and consulates in China, including that of Israel. We will also take similar steps to make sure that all foreigners, who come to China for sightseeing, business or work, will enjoy the same stable and safe life as the Chinese people.
Q: Would you please provide some details of the US Vice President Cheney's visit to China next month? Who will he meet? What are they going to discuss? Are they to talk about human rights or trade? Second question is that Viet Nam announced it would open tourist route to the Nan Sha Islands. What is your comment? And it is reported that about one hundred North Korean asylum seekers who are being held in Tu Men of Jinlin Province went on protest by hunger strike. Can you confirm this?
A: As for Vice President Cheney's visit to China, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong has invited him to China at the convenient time. We welcome his visit in April. I have not got everything in detail. Relevant information will be available once confirmed.
To answer your second question about Viet Nam's decision to open tourist route to the Nan Sha Islands, I want to stress that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nan Sha Islands and the adjacent water. In doing so, Viet Nam has violated China's territorial sovereignty. It is known that China and ASEAN countries signed in 2002 an important document titled The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which sets out the basic principles in handling the issue of the South China Sea by parties concerned. It is our hope that all parties concerned including Viet Nam could faithfully adhere to the consensus and principles reached by all parties, correct the wrong doings immediately and refrain from taking any actions that might cause escalation and complication so as to make concrete efforts for the stability in the South China Sea. The maintenance of the stability in the South China Sea is not only the common responsibility of all countries concerned, but also a widely-held expectation of the international community.
On your third question, we have explained our attitude at previous conferences. Some people from DPRK have entered China illegally due to economic difficulties. It is fair to say that Chinese people in the Northeast and the rest of China have provided them with food and other necessities. Given their unconventional entry, we hope they could abide by the law.